With the death of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, things have gotten terribly uncomfortable for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—and his worry has led to serious threats.
Gaddafi was the latest Middle East dictator to fall in the wave of the Arab Spring. Fighting against his own people helped to bring NATO forces in to support the revolutionaries. Assad, who has violently clamped down on his own nation, fears similar intervention in Syria.
In early October, the Syrian leader threatened to set fire to the Middle East by striking Israel, stating in a meeting with the foreign minister of Turkey, a NATO member, “If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need no more than six hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv” (quoted in “Report: Assad Threatens to Attack Tel Aviv in Case of NATO Strike,” Ynet News, Oct. 4, 2011).
He further “stressed that Damascus will also call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch a fierce rocket and missile attack on Israel, one that Israeli intelligence could never imagine. ‘All these events will happen in three hours, but in the second three hours, Iran will attack US warships in the Persian Gulf as American and European interests will be targeted simultaneously,’ Assad reportedly said” (ibid.).
According to the intelligence and security news service DEBKA file: “Israel reacted with a warning of its own: If a single Syrian missile explodes in Tel Aviv, Damascus will be first to pay the price, and if the missile offensive persists, one Syrian town after another will be destroyed. The Israeli message to Assad cited the warnings Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other government members addressed in the past year to Hizballah, that if Tel Aviv comes under attack from its missiles, not only Beirut but all of Lebanon would go up in flames. Assad was given to understand that Syria would go the same way as Lebanon if it engaged in missile belligerence against Israel” (“Turkish Military Exercise on Syrian Border. Assad Threatens Tel Aviv if Attacked,” Oct. 4, 2011).
Some see the building tensions as leading up to the fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah 17:1 Isaiah 17:1The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
American King James Version×: “Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1 Isaiah 17:1The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
American King James Version×). The fulfillment of this prophecy is clearly yet future, as Damascus, while it has been overthrown in the past, has never ceased from being a city. (In fact, it’s reputedly the oldest continually inhabited city in the world.)
But the timing and cause of this destruction are not clear. While it could conceivably result from an Israeli retaliatory strike, there are reasons from other prophecies to place the destruction of Damascus in the same context as the judgment on others of Israel’s neighbors during the period of the Day of the Lord, just prior to Christ’s return.
In any case, a massive attack on Tel Aviv would certainly set the Middle East on fire—a fire that could well devastate Damascus and the rest of Syria.
For a broader overview of events to come in the region, send for or download our free booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy (Sources: Ynet News, DEBKAfile.)